Monday, November 18, 2013

Words in the forecast I loathe

Wintery Mix
I really do not hate winter. I was a ski instructor for more winters than I am willing to admit to this morning. And I have lived in Colorado and New Mexico where winter provides much of the local income. But there are certain winter conditions I am not fond of. The older I get the more picky I get about snow. And since the record winter of 2006 I would just as soon the snow line be 250 feet above my house.

I am not fond of the new favorite term on weather sites: Wintery Mix. It seems to encompass the absolute worst of winter - sleet, hail, freezing rain which it tops off with blowing snow. I hate the term blowing snow. Frankly, I think it is a cop out. What they mean is blizzard but they do not want to panic us because blizzard brings back the PTSD from the winter of 2006. I have a friend who suffered a crisis during that three day storm that delivered six feet of snow which didn't melt until May. I believe it finally just wore out from being blown around into new configurations, but I digress. She heard it was going to be a bad winter this year and she listed her house for sale. I tried to explain nothing sells here in the winter.

In fact, nobody moves in the winter. Which gives me nightmares because my tenants are doing what nobody here does. And they are doing it late enough I worry about all their shit on my property getting snowed under and frozen to the ground. That happened to me with three cords of wood the winter of 2006 before I built my wood shed. Good news is I had my firewood for the winter of 2007.

But the winter of 2006 was the exception to the rule (oh let us hope and pray), and I was talking normal winter terms I loathe. Subzero is one which got added to my list last December. We normally have about ten days of subzero temps and usually in December but unfortunately back to back. But last winter I think we had 31 such days and nights which broke all sorts of records. One record was -33 degrees. Basically the last few winters have proven there is no normal. Take the January thaw, which here in New Mexico generally lasts about two weeks. Nice balmy weather which panics the ski areas because they fear an early spring. Certainly looked possible last year when January thaw continued into March. Had all of us locals actually praying for snow so we would have no forest fires come real spring.

No room for sitting

Depth of snow is not so much a problem as how it falls. I want it moist so it will melt easily. All snow storms should be followed by three or more days of wonderful sunny weather to speed along that melt. Definitely no wind until the snow has melted in all spots which get sun. And it must be highly photogenic. I have studied this and 1 to 6 inches is best. We get about 210 inches a season here but it is very doable at 6 inches at a time.

Wintery reflections

Back to those winter words I loathe - Gale force winds. I left Denver because of winter winds. And Texas because of summer winds. And every place I have lived in the midwest because of twisted winds. i.e. tornadoes. Wind when it involves powder snow of great depth is not nice. I really got to study drift theory. The county road maintenance crew went from plows to front end loaders, and at one point I thought I could build a winter garage by putting boards from the top of one snow pile to the top of the other on the opposite side of my drive. Yes, winter of 2006.

Hazardous Weather Outlook brings terror to my mind. It means lots of snow, cold temps and gale force winds. All together. I could go all winter without having to read those words, in red, on my NOAA forecast.

I want my snow picture perfect like it always seemed to be when I was young.

What are your favorite weather forecast words for winter?


  1. Harsh winters are one of the reasons live in the tropics. I never liked the cold. Winters in the north of England were hard and bitter but I was much younger and homes and work places were cosily centrally heated. Donning boots (with heels), leather gloves, a three quarter sheep skin coat and a skirt that was far shorter than the coat, was not a problem fro me as I went from car to home to car to work. In later years in London, the sheepskin was exchanged for a Barbour and a fur for evenings which regardless of what they say about them, keep you very warm. I even had moon boots like the children did which was very trendy and stopped us all from falling.

    Snow is pretty when it first falls. Christmas card like. After three days, when it's turning to black slush it is no longer pretty. Add to that a drive which has black ice and the cost of tons of salt so that you can get your car out of the drive!

    I cannot bear the wind. I can take other things but not the biting wind that brings tears to your eyes and leaves you looking blotchy faced! By spring I was sick of it getting dark so early in the evenings. I did not like November, it got slightly better after the 21 December, January was bearable and normally February and March were bitterly cold with more snow and winds.

    I did no realize that they don't use the word blizzards any more. Shame because we all know what that means. These days I just look out of my window and it's either blazing hot or cool because it's raining. Cool is probably about 78 degrees. As I write it's raining - not torrential but steady rain. Preferable to a bitterly cold winter.

    1. I do not do city winters. Lived in DC a couple but the way the wind blows down the artificial canyons of buildings just gets to me especially since in that era I dressed just like you.

      Country winters are a bit different. No salt because it kills our trees and the snow doesn't get black. If the sun is out which it often is here it is warm. Would you believe this morning at 5 F I was out taking photos of hoar frost and had my jacket unzipped.

      As I get older I find myself more intolerant to the heat and I moved here to get away from insecticides and other poisons. No place is perfect. We just have to take a bit of sugar with the bitters.

  2. It was always warmer in London than anywhere else.

    The north country winters were bitter but we managed. I woke up one October morning in 1965 to find an overnight snow fall. Snow fall?? We couldn't get the car out of the garage for two days as the wind driven snow had blocked it totally to a depth of about 5 feet and height of approx 12 feet.

    Winters in northern Germany were bitter too with car tyres having to chain linked. When I went home on school holidays for Christmas, there was the car at the airport with the tyres adorned with chains. It was an offence not to have them on once the snow came.

    I don't like the heat as much as I once did. My days of toasting in the sun are long gone. To look at me one would never think that I live in a hot climate. The couple of skin cancers taken care of in 2004 put paid to that!

  3. Somehow I missed your latest blogs. Now enjoying with the morning coffee with Reishi. We get no wind to speak of here except during a weather change, when we may get violent gusts. I share your disgust of mixed precip. Dreaded words here: sunshine. In my valley, that means valley cloud. I hate it with a passion.


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